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'Abd al-Rahman Jami (d.1492), Yusuf va Zuleykha, attributed to Salim Nishapuri, Persia, Safavid, second half 16th century
Estimate
70,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 87,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
31
'Abd al-Rahman Jami (d.1492), Yusuf va Zuleykha, attributed to Salim Nishapuri, Persia, Safavid, second half 16th century
Estimate
70,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 87,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Arts of the Islamic World

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'Abd al-Rahman Jami (d.1492), Yusuf va Zuleykha, attributed to Salim Nishapuri, Persia, Safavid, second half 16th century
Persian manuscript on paper, 12 lines to the page written in elegant nasta’liq script in black ink, arranged in 2 columns, ruled in blue, red, green and gold,  headings in blue against a gold ground, illuminated opening frontispiece with 4 lines of elegant nasta’liq text decorated with polychrome and gold interlacing scrolls, 3 full-page miniatures on f.10a, 72b and 106a, heightened with gold, gilt-stamped binding with filigree-work doublures, with flap
25.2 by 15.5cm.
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Provenance

Formerly in the library of Bertram Ashburnham, fourth Earl of Ashburnham, (1797-1878), May 1897, appendix no.CXCI.
Gift from Sydney Cockerell (1867-1962) to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922), 1900.
Ex-collection Philip Hofer (1898-1984), Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Thanks to an inscription on f.1a, we know that by the end of the nineteenth century, in 1303 AH/1885-86 AD, the present volume changed hands in Shiraz, when the attribution to Salim Nishapuri was made. By 1897 the volume was in the collection of the fourth Earl of Ashburnham, whose library was sold between 1878 and 1901 by his heir, the fifth Earl. We can presume that this manuscript was among the lots sold. Another ownership inscription at the top of the page records the gifting of this manuscript from Sydney Cockerell to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt in 1900. Sydney Cockerell was employed by Blunt firstly as a secretary and later become his executor. He was also the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum between 1908 and 1937. Thanks to his initial employment, Cockerell was introduced to the social circle of Blunt and his wife, Lady Anne, and became deeply immersed in their general aesthetic taste, travelling extensively with them in the Middle East at the end of 1890s. This volume was presented to Blunt in 1900, the same year the three of them nearly died at sea en route to Mount Sinai. Further to that incident, Cockrell made a pledge to never shave again. Finally, the manuscript came into the hands of the distinguished East Coast collector Philip Hofer.

Catalogue Note

This is a fine copy of Yusuf va Zuleykha produced during the second half of the sixteenth century in Safavid Persia. The manuscript is in very good condition, and has attracted the attention of a number of distinguished collectors over the last century.

Yusuf va Zuleykha is one of the greatest mystical love stories of Medieval Islamic literature. Inspired by the surah Yusuf (XII), it has been adapted by more than eighteen Persian poets with Jami’s version, completed in 1484, the most widely known.

The miniatures found in the manuscript to hand are as follows:

F.10a: The Prophet’s night journey (mi’raj) mounted on Buraq.
F.72b: Yusuf offered for sale at the market.
F.106a: The ladies of Egypt at Layla’s house overwhelmed by Yusuf’s beauty.

The Persian note on the opening page holds the information that it was copied by Salim Nishapuri, pupil of Shah Mahmud, and that it was purchased in Shiraz in the year 1303 AH/1885-86 AD. The calligrapher Salim is recorded as Ethiopian in origin, the son of a servant-slave of Shah Tahmasp’s minister and a pupil of Shah Mahmud Nishapuri, a nasta’liq calligrapher and master of writing in coloured ink. Salim appears to have lived in Mashhad throughout his life and died there circa 1582. His recorded works are dated between 1560 and 1569 (M. Bayani, 1959, pp.282-4).

Arts of the Islamic World

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